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  singles - june 2005

Milburn - demo (Free Construction)
Funny that a band who claim to be adept at “breaking moulds” and “disregarding influences” should, from the first few seconds of track one on this two song CD, be so immediately identified as followers of…The Libertines, one of the most heavily copied outfits of the moment.   

However, the comparison that Milburn is really pushing for is with those pesky Gallagher brothers (as if the hints of sibling rivalry and infighting supplied by the press-sheet doesn’t give the game away). So here we have two well crafted pop nuggets, one penned and sung by each brother, that fall well shy of the three minute mark, with lyrics forged from experiences on the rough streets of Sheffield. Nothing original then, but with an average age of seventeen, this is a band with time on its side.

Will Columbine


Spoon – ‘I Turn My Camera On’ (Matador)
‘I Turn My Camera On’ is probably the highlight from their new album ‘Gimme Fiction’ and so it seems an obvious choice as single number one. It is sexy and groovy and twitches along to form an edgy and compelling track. Like Franz Ferdinand’s sexier older brother.

Luke Drozd


 

Pollen - def.con
Pollen’s press-sheet comes complete with the usual gushing praise from local music publications, describing the band ‘s sound as a mixture of “the fragile dynamics of Elbow (a band who’s output I’m not familiar enough with to comment – although what I have heard sounds nothing like any of the three tracks on display here) and the tuned down histrionics of Muse” (yeah, definitely).  Should I be worried about the sheer weight of Matt Bellamy-a-likes I’ve been reviewing recently? Oh well, at least Pollen are better than most of them. 

Ok, so first track “Def. Con”comes on like a carbon copy of Muse and nothing more, with the singer offering up a more nasal version of Thom Yorke. And “Leave Quietly” repeats the trick of ‘quiet-verse-building-up-to-loud-chorus’ to little in the way of emotional effect. But just when I’m thinking “could do better” – they do! “Soldier On" easily surpasses the efforts of its predecessors with frail harmonies that eventually give way to Jonny Greenwood style guitar thrasheroo.  Nice.

Will Columbine


Amina – ‘Aminamina’ (The Worker’s Institute)
After spending much of their recent musical lives accompanying Sigur Ros, both live and on record, as well as appearing on the excellent Album Leaf record ‘In a Safe Place’, its about time Amina had the good grace to offer the world an insight into there own musical and creative musings.

From the off Amina wear their hearts on their sleeves in terms of what they offer the listener. Describing themselves as essentially a string quartet, their music is about shifting moods and patterns. The first track offers you a gentle hand into this world and into ‘Hemipode’ the records second piece of music, one so beautiful it will have you shaken to your very bones. It manages to be both elating and chilling as strings are plucked manipulated as you are slowly enveloped by it all. ‘Fjarskanistan’ is no less beautiful but perhaps slightly more intense as it gently lifts and sores. Finally ‘Blaskjar’ offers a far starker side of the Amina sound and is probably the one that most pays tribute to their colleagues in Sigur Ros.

Like the bands they have accompanied before Amina are a group with both musical depth and character. Their sound is as much about a sense of place and changing moods as it is about the music itself. This debut is a taste of what will follow on there forth coming full-length which on the strength of the songs here promises to be one off the musical highlights of the year.

Luke Drozd


 

Daliah- This Is My Skin
Daliah obviously has no sense of humour, I mean the title is surely calling out for the words 'Show Me Yours' to be placed at the end. Yes, this is absolutely irrelevant, but even that terrible pun cannot match the irrelevance and pointlessness of a track like 'This Is My Skin'. The lead singer sounds like the 'bird' out of The Beautiful South, and the backing track is probably lifted from one of their 'heavier' songs. And no, that isn't a positive comment T'South fans.

On the lyrics, I think lines like "I'm still a woman, im still here" speak for themselves. Some would say they are 'defiant', I personally think 'mind-numbingly predictable' would be more appropriate. So Daliah; Bland, predictable, without depth and probably a lesbian.

Jordan Dowling


Sidekick - demo
If nothing else, Birmingham’s Sidekick do their utmost to make their songs come across as anthemic. Singer Adam Blair adopts a not-strictly-necessary-and-not-particularly-pleasant-on-the-ears nasal American whine, possibly to accentuate the themes of “alienation and confusion” which are the band’s chosen subject matter. 

And then there’s the usual promise of originality and individualism, when all I actually hear is some nice enough (yet hardly “experimental” as claimed) guitar-work over a plodding rhythm section. I don’t mean to be rude or piss on other people’s hard work but I honestly can’t think of much else to add.

Will Columbine


 

Leon- Be There
If there was a Brit Award for the single most likely to make you go 'aww' when hearing it then Leon probably wouldn't be up late enough to accept it.

Keyboard melodies and acoustic guitars float along at a pleasant pace, and the vocals manages to walk the fine line between 'catchy' and 'vomit-inducing' without knocking over the cups of Ovaltine littering the studio.

The b-side 'Prozac Generation' is more of the same, and both tracks come from Leon's forthcoming album 'Uppers and Downers'. A whole album may be a little much, but this release is definitely worth checking out.

Jordan Dowling


Six Foot Flames - Re-heated City Blues (demo)
Just in case anyone was starting to assume that I am predisposed to finding everything I review to be a disappointment…I hereby announce that Six-Foot Flames are great! Praise be to God that here is a band who understand dynamics. Have decent melodies. Realise that all the guitar wank in the world ain’t worth a damn without an actual song underneath. AND they have a girl drummer (which is always cool in my book). 

Make no mistake, this is good ol’ fashioned, hewn from granite RAWK! Think Guns & Roses (minus Axl’s nasal screech), the strut of AC/DC, the showmanship of Queen. “Reheated City Blues” kicks off proceedings in fine fashion (and well done to SFF for putting the best track up front) with an extremely catchy chorus, and is swiftly followed by “Another Way”, a grower with QOTSA-style lyrics and the requisite widdly guitar solo. “Worst Enemy” rounds everything off more than satisfactorily.  

It’s great to listen to something with a bit of character, especially in today’s musical climate of Coldplay, diet-Coldplay and Coldplay with a hint of lemon. Whether SFF can fill the hole left by The Darkness’ apparent hiatus remains to be seen, but its nice that, for once, the shout-out on the press sheet (courtesy of Bugbear Promotions, no less) amounts to much more than just hot air.

Will Columbine


 

Gratitude- Drive Away
Wow, was this written by an NHS spokesperson? Here's the opening lyrics: "If you ever see her lying there don't just stare, please get up and help her, and then check her pulse and give her air". Sure, I guess it has an ulterior meaning, probably to do with love, but who knows, I needed to be hooked to a drip after the track turned into sub-3 Doors Down 'jock-rock' 50 seconds in. After 1.30 I was sure I was listening to 'American Pie' without the occasional dick jokes splitting the music.

Yes there are many things i could say about the band name, but I really don't want to spend any more time on a track as lifeless and throw-away as this one.

Jordan Dowling


Polar - Bite Your Nails (demo)
Interesting to see that Polar achieved some modest success with this epic rock single in the Irish charts earlier this year but does that mean it’s any good? Well, it’s certainly not overtly commercial, and although I liked the bout of guitar abuse mid-way through the title track, it comes to an end without having reached any sought of satisfying conclusion. 

If the title doesn’t give the game away, second track “The Shortest Road to Happiness is a Straight Line” is very much in thrall to Mogwai, albeit with vocals, with its slow build, smattering of xylophone and the fact that it lasts for over five minutes. Overall I liked this better although the singing was neither here nor there. Perhaps a future as a post-rock band beckons?

Will Columbine


Five O'Clock Heroes- Head Games
This track really should be terrible, but there is something that limits it
to being just 'awkwardly bland'. Maybe its the vocals, which are poor but not forcibly so or the fact that unlike most bands that the Five O'Clock Heroes sound like (read almost the same as) they seem to be aware they are little more than a hyped pub band. So while not being as shambolic and catchy as a band like Art Brut or The Libertines, they aren't as tear-inducingly shit as a band like The Paddingtons. I wouldn't go as far as recommending you buy this CD, but definitely worth downloading off of a file-sharing program.

Jordan Dowling


VIB GYOR - Stalker (demo)
No press-sheet with this one so at least I can judge the music entirely on its own merits. Here is a band that deal in soundscapes rather than songs, with three of the five tracks scraping past the six-minute mark, and the singer coming across like Brett Anderson attempting to “do a Bono” on Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes, with more than just a hint of Sigur Ros. However, what sounds intriguing on paper is less so in reality. 

Opening track “Fallen” is very U2, with lots of delay, but without anything memorable in terms of a melody or structure. The fact that the final two minutes of instrumental are more enjoyable than what goes before speaks volumes. “Church Bell” continues to straddle the Keane/stadium rock divide, while “The Stalker” picks up the pace somewhat but is no more interesting because of it. By the time track 5 rolls around and threatens to do something interesting with processed beats, I’ve lost interest.

Will Columbine


 

Dover- Die for Rock and Roll
Dover make New York 70's punk rock, and they are from Barcelona. Fronted by sisters Cristina and Amparo Ilanos, they jump about like a kick ass Blondie. Yes I am just typing out the press release, but if Dover don't make any effort in making music, then why should I when writing about it? Actually that is a little bit harsh, I could go as far as saying the CD single is 'fun', and the vocals do fit the overall mood pretty well. In fact, the acoustic version of this track is far superior to the full band version, with Cristina's vocals showing signs of *shudder* emotion while
remaining perfectly in tune.

However, when a band promises to "die for rock and roll" its fair to say you could expect more for your Pesetas (or Euros, if you want to be correct).

Jordan Dowling


M83 – ‘Teen Angst’ (Gooom)
‘Before the Dawn Heals Us’ M83’s latest album is a sonic assault of epic proportions and single ‘Teen Angst’ is one of many examples of just that. It is an ambient, thoughtful pop gem that will be sure to captivate. And as an even greater treat depending on which format you buy depends on which extra gem you receive. Personally I say buy the CD and get the excellent Montag Remix, but hey what do I know? 

Fraser Shelton


The Avenues – Demo
A three song EP recorded in a living room in Leeds, this is a summery dose of pop that is cunningly addictive. I know it’s easy and lazy to reference the Beach Boys but it’s a struggle not to with perhaps a slight nod towards Beechwood Sparks. While there is still just that certain something missing from somewhere in these songs (and I’m not really convinced at all by the final track) and there’s a way to go to achieve the heights of their influences, this has certainly whet my appetite to hear more from these chaps.

Luke Drozd


The Xenith Sound- s/t EP
I've been fortunate enough to see these guys play a couple of times and can inform you that they create a formidably loud and complex sound full of phasing guitar effects, reverb, machine gun drumming and permanently spot on vocals to accompany their undoubted song writing abilities.

So the first three tracks of this ep come as a bit of a surprise as they are a delivered with a pretty tame production that leaves you permanently trying to turn up the volume, But all is forgiven with 'Boy Racer' - an absolute belter of a track that should have A&R types in a flurry for their cheque books. This really gets the power of their live shows across and demonstrates why you should get to see one their gigs before they are whisked away to some remote recording studio by EMI/Sony/Warner Inc. to record an album.

Shane Blanchard


The White Stripes – ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ (XL)
The debut single of the much-anticipated new album by the White Stripes, ‘Blue Orchid’ is a falsetto led, blues infected whirlwind of a track. In true White Stripes fashion it seems to be gone as quick as it arrived leaving you asked, ‘what the hell was that?’ A foot-stompingly good taste of what we may be given on the new album perhaps?

Luke Drozd


Satellite Dub - Click To Enter (self release)
Following on from 'Power Off Einstein', Craig Brown follows up with another perfect lesson in dance floor filling electronica-meets-intelligent techno. All three tracks are records that Orbital would have made if they spent all day drinking Red Bull instead of fiddling around with those weirdo head lamp torch spectacle thingies. A complex, atmospheric gurglarama of bleeps, beats and occasional whale noises in an easy to handle, radio friendly package. What more could you want?

Shane Blanchard


Napoleon IIIrd - ep (Dance to the Radio)
It seems all things Leeds are the taste of the moment at present and this release is no exception. Layers on layers of interest with twangly guitars, a brass section, a recorder break that sounds like a music lesson at your local primary school and big booming drums concoct a distinct flavour. There is something very 'Leeds' about this, but not the new 'Knightsbridge of the North' council-created version. More like the original cloth caps and whippets straight from an Alan Bennett play.

No real verse - chorus - verse structures here to lumber along with and even the old seventies educational toy 'Speak 'n' Spell' gets a look in. Lovely stuff.

Shane Blanchard


Hey Negrita - Devil in My Shoes (Fat Fox)
Strange name, strange cover, strange release. But maybe that is what to expect when recovering from heroin addiction (the artist, not myself). Title track 'Devil in my Shoes' has a tootling little electric organ harmony all the way through but the overall impression is of a Chris Rea cover version. Flipside, 'One Mississippi' does nothing to dispel the Rea comparisons (except Rea has probably got a better voice). Nothing to see here.

Shane Blanchard


British Beef - Without Me (Fat Fox)
Strange name, Strange cover, better release. Fat Fox cannot be accused of not covering a broad range of genres. This is unabashed skate rock, but the nice socially acceptable (and, ultimately, marketable) version peddled by the likes of Busted et al. Admittedly 'No I don't Want Another Joint' may have trouble getting aired on Top of the Pops, British Beef don't stray too far from the mainstream, and why should they, they do skate punk pretty well. Undoubtedly a hit with 17 year olds who experiment with dubious facial hair and drink WKD in parks at night.

Shane Blanchard


Temposhark - Invisible Ink/Little White Lie (Paper and Glue)
Top press release award this month surely goes to Temposhark who are described as 'buffing up their prick-kicking shoes' and being 'avuncular bleep urchin[s]'. Marvellous stuff! As is the double A-side they are releasing. Effortlessly mixing Reznor-esque pyscho synth with the vulnerable vocal style of the Sneaker Pimps, this easily crosses the chasm between dance music and indie. Expect to see them equally at home on stage at London's Water Rats or mixing it like good 'uns on the European dance circuit.

Shane Blanchard


The Lodger - Many Thanks For Your Honest Opinion (Dance to the Radio)
High tempo indie guitar pop rules the day here - exactly the sort of music tasty stalwart Metcalf would be tossing his highly coiffured barnet around to. 'Unsatisfied' is the stand-out track for me with roller coaster vocals sweeter than a Twix left in the sun on a hot day. Sensitive types and ironic Oxfam suit wearers will lap this up.

Shane Blanchard


Beach - Burning Up (Sliding Vinyl)
Holy crap this is poor. Beach (for that is his real name - zany!) used to have a high flying job in the city before deciding to makes his living from music. Presumably he was busy trading shares or something when this over-produced emotionless guff was being peddled all over the shop first time around in the 80s. Sounds like a bad Bryan Ferry impersonator at wedding disco. And much as I love penguins (I really do - I used to own one - really) the video is shit too.

Shane Blanchard


Miss Black America - Dot Dot Dot (Repeat)
Funny looking bunch - owing more than a smidgeon to Guns 'n' Roses methinks. But good eggs all the same - fellow anti-fascists and purveyors of riffmongous punk metal. This three track ep bristles with guitar parts, efficient bass and real heart felt vocals (in a good way) from a lead singer who sounds like he is suffering from asthma. The cover of Nirvana's 'Love Buzz' is startlingly good and a completely original take on the track. Just goes to show what you can achieve with  bit of imagination.

Shane Blanchard


Vibration White Finger - Five Minutes To Live E.P
VWF has it all in an era where the sound of fast rock & roll is oozing out of every stone. In such a tiny E.P, VWF covers dark, moody, vibrant and forceful; all in one go! It does not stand out as anything new, but that does not matter, its more of what we all enjoy. The trumpet and horn are a surprise but this proves to work well and provides a pleasant retreat during the more intense lulls. If comparisons were needed, The Keiser Chiefs & Franz Ferdinand spring to mind with the darker, moodier sound of NIN. “Sleep it off” is infectious, my preference for sure. It’s gritty, dark and the production is spot on. You can hear all this seven piece “demolition” force in “Let it go” as the beat is a definite floor stomper. This EP sounds familiar, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, they are foot stomping tracks from a sometimes heavy ensemble. I would question what else they could deliver and certainly keep a sharp eye out for a live performances and any forthcoming album.  

Sarah McDonald


Mando Diao - God Knows
So it has come to this. Mando Diao have jettisoned their infectious loose-limbed rock and roll w/ soul groove in favour of this Britpop-esque romp with a jaunty blah BLAH chorus. (Why? -god knows.) Knowing the heights they’ve previously reached I’m begging them, imploring them to return to form. If their musicianship weren’t so tight, this would be risible, as it is it just about passes muster. I couldn’t listen to an album of this. 

MJL


Reemer - EP
Sounds like this may have been recorded on a bit of a budget, not that there is anything wrong with that. It's just a bit on the quiet side. Which for 'frenetic 4-piece' will obviously take something away from the effect.

Plenty of twiddly guitar and power ballad type vocals on display here but its all a bit muddied together. There are little inklings of influences every so often in a bridge here and a pre-chorus there but I'm sorry - at the moment they sound a little bit like a pub band. Time will tell.

Shane Blanchard


Sidearm - Don't Cry Help Until You're Dead
Not renowned as a musical hotbed, Peterborough may have at last produced an act which may trouble the sales assistants at HMV. Sidearm are a triple guitar four piece with a heavy emphasis on percussive melodies and some serious kick pedalling drums.

With some slightly surreal song titles like 'Precede the Map' and 'Jeremy's Parking Only', Sidearm would probably fit into a number of categories but there is certainly an air of Fugazi about their angular guitar parts and minimalist production. This is a very solid release with no room for slack ep fillers - every second is crafted with a purpose and there is no law against three or more separate killer riffs in each song. Recent reviewees ¡Forward Russia! and The Half Rabbits would be good comparisons. Cracking graphics too...

Shane Blanchard


Queen Mary's Revenge - Hera into Heifer/Meta/Para
More million miles an hour angular rock action from the East Midlands. Joining a host of other talent such as Public Relations Exercise and TEAM, Queen Mary's Revenge continue this rich vein of form.

It's all a bit of a whirl this CD and it's over before you've had a chance to draw breath. Plenty of interesting stuff going on (generally all at once) to ensure a second listen and to look out for the name on the live circuit.

Shane Blanchard


Dolores - Please Note ep
It's amazing what you can miss on your own doorstep. While doing some of my regular research into the bands I'm reviewing (for yes, it is true, I do try to look a little bit further afield than just a trumped up press release and a tatty CD-R for info) I find out that the purveyors of this silky release are not only from my own fair town, but have played there about 10 times in the last 6 months. Oops!

Perhaps it is the lack of the 'Leeds Sound' about this recording which makes all the difference. It is a bold move to eschew the art rock world in Leeds at moment but Dolores show us their is life beyond the Kaiser Chiefs copyists and plough their own furrow of soulful, trip-hoppy music. Probably appealing to a more sophisticated crowd than the average pub band in the Vine, Dolores weave their way through 5 tracks on this ep in a surreal dreamscape type of atmosphere. A couple of the weaker tracks could easily pass off as aural wallpaper but 'a short film about...' is a brooding masterpiece that snaps even the least attentive of listener to attention.

Shane Blanchard


The Hate Brigade - demo
What do they put in the drinking water up in Glasgow? Ok, so The Hate Brigade deal in their own brand of Irn-Bru fuelled punk-pop rather than the thrash metal dirge their moniker brings to mind. But listen to the lyrics and you start to get a better idea of the warped minds at work here. Opener "Dead Rooms" comes leaping out of the traps - think Supergrass in a head-on collision with The Stooges (hmm, wonder who'd win that one?) - although I can't make out out what exactly they're singing about.

"18 With A Bullet". however, begins the rapid descent into sickness...I find myself singing along to the chorus which includes the phrase "Nazi fuckin' traitor!" and jiving to what can only be described as rockabilly Hives. And then, finally, there's "Beasts & Monsters" and it's here that the Brigade's twisted sense of humour is all to plain to see. It's a hilarious tale mocking the public outcry over paedophiles, and features a neat little soliloquy in which a mother threatens to execute her daughter in order to save her from the lurking menace. Brass Eye meets indie rock? Well, I thought it was funny...

Will Columbine


  Daniel Fell - Promotion E.P.
A 21 year old singer/songwriter from London who has already been written up in The Guardian as crafting "perfect sunshine pop", Daniel's blossoming talent belies his tender years. Three tracks here, none of which exceed three minutes, with hooks in abundance and a firm grasp of what makes good pop. "Where It Started" is the most aggressive pick of the bunch, its stabbing guitar and slightly venomous lyrics of love-gone-wrong coming on as much like Elvis Costello as The Libertines.

2nd track "Two Sides" is perhaps the weakest (I had to play it more than the others for it to lodge in my memory) but has the sweetest harmonies. Maybe it's a grower. The country-esque "Swords & Words" meanwhile marries some lazy, sun-kissed strumming to gorgeous cello. A promising beginning, and what may be lacking in vocal confidence and true originality is more than made up for by the fact that there will surely be better to come.

Will Columbine


Soiled - Happyland (Elm Lodge)
You could say it's dark but dancy electronica or you could go for light hearted experimental industrial. Soiled is inhabiting that difficult to pin down area and making it his own.

This second release reviewed in tasty sees a continuation of the disembodied breakbeats and lo-fi soundscapes but always in quite an accessible way - no mean feat when some tracks feature 30 second interludes of nothing more than a few squelching sounds. Intriguing stuff.

Shane Blanchard


  Neil's Children - Always the Same (Poptones)
This splendid bass driven punk gem from Neil's Children see small animals and timid adults scurrying for cover in the wake of extreme pop distortion. Precision, energy, chaos and pace in abundance - the Neil's Children mosh pit must be a scary place to drink your snakebites.

Shane Blanchard


Flaming Apes head - It's All So Simple/Shallow
Marvellous name - questionable release. This guitar-bass-drum threesome thrash out some challenging riffs and melodies, too challenging it seems as the drums often seem to fail to keep up with the rest of the band in 'It's All So Simple'

'Shallow' is a much more measured effort and is increasingly coherent because of it, despite quite an annoying scratchy guitar riff. Could do with another few tracks to make my mind up really but not sufficiently interested to seek them out from this first showing.

Shane Blanchard


Ninja Massacre - Have Cake and Eat It/Fight for Your Right
If this had been Sweden's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest I might well have watch the whole thing. As it stands, Robert Pörschke has to settle for entertaining a markedly smaller, if more discerning audience.

These tracks fair gallop along like a rabid Joy Division savaging Banarama in a Ritzy's disco just outside of Scunthorpe. Nasally vocal noodlings are the back drop to the more dominant dance beats and keyboards effects healthily interspersed with 'proper' singing on the choruses. Wonderfully out of date and ahead of its time in the same blow.

Shane Blanchard


  The Gold Fever - California/Hear My Voice
A solid if not ground breaking introduction to 'California' suddenly decamps into far more exciting territory than initially expected. Unashamedly pop, the influence of bands such as The Cramps and The Stooges are mixed surprisingly successfully with the Beach Boys and Supergrass.

Simple chord progressions, uncomplicated drumming and precise bass describe 'Hear My Voice' an understated triumph of a tune which promises an interesting future for the Gold Fever.

Shane Blanchard


  Garrett - demo
A seriously impressive debut from London's Garrett who have eschewed the temptation to use 'The' in front of their name almost as successfully as they have avoided sounding like any of their contemporaries. They cite Jesus Lizard as an influence and I think that is pretty much bang on. But if anything I think Garrett are a bit better, a bit more adventurous and yet a bit more restrained than David Yow's compadres. Metronome-breaking use of differing time signatures ensure that 'The Support/Arch Standard' won't become anything more than a track to nod along to with only limited opportunities for a good old headbang, but it knocks the socks of your current run of the mill post-rock offerings.

Shane Blanchard


Beautiful Feet - Suddenly/I See (5:1)
The next CD from some sub-Coldplay to sully my disc player may quickly find itself being frisbeed out the window or used as an impromptu coaster. The lumbering 'Suddenly' is no exception. It might be Ok for people who like to hold hands with their girlfriends/boyfriends while trainer shopping in Top Shop but it bores me to tears.

Which is what makes 'I See' all the more of a pleasant surprise. This tricksy little number, dare I say it, even Smithsian in places, saves the day and means the CD doesn't spend the next seven days under my coffee cup. There's even a passable Gregorian-chant style backing vocal. Very definitely a game of two halves as Des Lynam would say.

Shane Blanchard


Undercut- To Die For (Distiller)
'Everlong' by the Foo Fighters is one of my favourite songs of all time. 'To Die For' does a reasonably good comparison of it and for once The Fly are right about something - the singer does sound like Peter Gabriel.

But don't let that put you off. For some reason the band have been rehearsing in an aircraft hangar for months. maybe they like plane spotting? But there is no inkling of live performance about this release, produced to within an inch of it's life by Ian Grimble to maximise Johnny Benn's vocals. In 'Backroom' there's even a hint of Queens of the Stoneage, but it never really gets going, always just staying on the pop side of the fence. It's all OK, promising in places but there is still room for improvement.

Shane Blanchard

 
  Co-Star - demo
Blimey. Co-Star are ploughing a lone furrow. Playing old school rhythm and blues tracks with diva-esque lead singer who sounds like Liza Minelli and plays theramin, I don't think there is a lot of competition in that area.

The three tracks on display here would have been perfect backing tracks for Patrick Swayze's movie 'Roadhouse' or would sound right at home coming on a jukebox in some steak house in the mid west somewhere. There's definitely a conviction about what the band are doing. But I'm not sure I'd risk a pool cue being smashed over my head to hang around and listen.

Shane Blanchard

 
The Authentics - Back Down to Earth ep (UNOB)
Currently tying with the Strollers as the most prolific emailers that tasty encounters, The Strollers return with more smash and grab 3 minute indie rock songs that get the air guitar in full swing. The title track could be early Weezer and there is definitely a more overt US influence on this ep than on their previous release though always returning to home with a good few Manics style guitar solos.

In fact the Manics show their influence more than once in this ep, but they have sold their soul to Guns 'n' Roses, Slash has pushed Richie James' car off the Severn Bridge and James Bradfield has been knocked out by Axl's mic stand. Definitely not everyone's cup of tea, and easy to slag off in these ultra cool art rock times, but The Authentics sound like they are actually having fun playing and my guess is people who go and watch them enjoy it too.

Shane Blanchard


Soho Dolls - Stripper (Loser Friendly)
London sleaze-pups, The Soho Dolls return with their second single and a luxurious press release which actually smells like a tarts handbag (so I'm reliably informed). Over the last year the Dolls have been undergoing a bit of a reinvention in terms of image and sound. The new gothic outlook and harder edge comes over in this re-hash of 'Stripper', not to mention a particularly impressive use of gaffer tape in the video. The track is quite simply achingly good - dancy and dark, poignant and frivolous.

Flipside '1724' reverts back to good old Kraut rock electronica which would give Ladytron a run for their money.

Shane Blanchard


The Conway Story - Ghostwriter (Kooba Cuts)
[see opening paragraph of Beautiful Feet review above]. CD currently spinning its way earthwards somewhere in Leeds city centre...

Shane Blanchard


Kate Aumonier - Much Like Yesterday (Sanctuary)
It seems like Kate Aumonier has plaudits falling out of her ears and it's easy to see why. A truly distinctive voice that she does not feel the need to force down the listener's throat for every second of every track she writes. She uses her ample vocal talents more sparingly like shock therapy and it seems to work. Both these tracks are understated gems that lift the soul a little bit, and you can't ask for more than that can you?

Shane Blanchard

 
  Arthur Duke - More to Do ep
No packaging, no lengthy biography, no press release - just a CD-R with felt pen  and a hand written post it with song titles. Some times less is more and this minimalist offering makes up for its lack of info in the richness of its music.

A strange kind of Beck meets the Beach Boys vibe seems to be the order of the day, all delivered by the world weary voicebox of Mr Duke presumably. 'I would Do Time' sounds like the second cover version of Foo Fighters' 'Everlong' this month, but is another good effort. 'Loveslide' is a much slinkier beast altogether, very lounge lizardy swing apart from the phasing distortion murmuring around in the background. The ep is rounded off with 'Don't Think She is Listening' an upbeat affair that Elvis Costello would be proud of. All in all a well rounded little ep.

Shane Blanchard


  Los Skeletones - Supercalifunkalistic (Shrunkenheads)
So that's what Lenny Kravitz is doing now...I'd heard great things about Los Skeletones live act but assumed from their record sleeve art that they were some kind of gimmick band. Listening to the searing guitars and massive sound on this ep, it is clear that is anything but the case. these guys are serious musicians dressed up as 'The Devil' and, err, 'Death'. Some serious overdrive is in full effect and the drums sound like they are getting beaten into a voodoo induced trance in the title track.

'Chicks 'n' Powders' is a much more funky stop-start offering that burst into a Hendrix fuelled furious crescendo. There are elements of the early Chili Peppers stuff, more in the guitar than anything else. But the pseudo gospel funk of 'Cut Throat' is quite probably unlike anything else again. I'm gonna find out where they're playing next and go see them - watching from the back mind - they look a bit scary.

Shane Blanchard